NEW YORK (Dec. 19, 2017) — The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today ruled against the U.S. Department of Justice and affirmed BMI’s earlier consent decree victory. The Second Circuit agreed with the earlier judgment by Federal District Judge Louis L. Stanton, issued Sept. 16, 2016, that decided the BMI consent decree allows for the practice of fractional licensing. This is a practice that requires those who wish to license a song to acquire such rights from each of the composition’s co-creators or their representatives.
According to Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America, Inc., “This is a victory for all songwriters who want to be able to collaborate. With fractional licensing affirmed, those who want to license songs will not be able to drive down the price of a song by pitting one writer against another. This is about consent and not taking away creators’ rights to negotiate a fair price for their work.”
SGA outside counsel, Charlie Sanders, added, “The SGA is extremely gratified by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals' decision today, which confirmed the invalidity of the US Department of Justice's rulings concerning fractional licensing. By seeking to block fractional licensing, the DOJ had placed the entire collective licensing system in jeopardy. That system has helped to protect the rights of songwriters and composers for over a century, and must be continued if the music creator community is to survive.”
Carnes offered SGA’s congratulations to BMI for its stalwart defense of collective licensing. He also noted that SGA, “will continue to support amendments to the World War II-era consent decrees still unfairly imposed upon ASCAP and BMI. These outdated guidelines continue to hinder the ability of the performing rights societies to realize fair market value for the performance of musical works on behalf of their members.”